How Leadership Can Promote Ethics in the Workplace

By: ANDERSON Team


How do you create an ethical workplace? You start at the top, of course.

We sat down with our top dog, Ted Anderson– owner and president of ANDERSON Advertising– to learn about his approach.

After a few interruptions by our office dogs, we got through our list of questions and discovered Ted’s theory:

Respect breeds respect.

Read on to see how your business– large or small– can promote ethics in the workplace.

What does ethical leadership mean to you?

As with any industry, ethics are critical to success within advertising. It starts with treating your employees with respect and doing everything you can to keep the promises you make. Everything comes down to two words: respect and trust. Respect of others, regardless of status. Whether a client, customer or employee, treating everyone with respect is the foundation of all successful relationships, and the natural extension of respect is trust. Everyone you encounter should be able to trust that you will keep your word. As a leader, everyone you deal with is looking for you to be reliable and to keep your promises – it means they can count on you.

How do you create/govern an ethically run company and how do you get employees to behave ethically in the workplace?

I create an ethically run advertising agency by instilling certain ethical leadership characteristics within my employees. For instance, I encourage all of them to participate in teambuilding activities to foster motivation and trust amongst each other. We invest as much time into our employees as we do our clients. I believe that maintaining a positive and happy work place that my employees enjoy coming to makes it easy for them to uphold ethical standards and that each member of the team knows they can count on each other.

Provide examples of a few concrete ways in which you encourage ethical behavior in your organization?

Ethics are ingrained in our company culture– it’s a way of life here. We make sure to maintain strict billing standards and always track our time via a software called Workamajig. We work diligently to keep clients abreast of budgets, invoices and payments and go out of our way to show clients that their budgets are as important to us as our own.

Clients are accustomed to receiving clear estimates for every project and service to make sure they are never caught off guard. We provide full transparency for every client – there are never any hidden fees. I am very involved with all aspects of client service, making sure all accounts are handled properly. I make sure to hire the best people I can for each position who will take initiative and lead by example.

Set expectations up front

For all new hires, we go over our policies and procedures manual so that agency expectations are set into place from the beginning. Employees are required to review all policies and attest to their understanding so there are no surprises.

Work life and personal life are both important

Additionally, I always encourage a good work-life balance for my employees, as well as encourage team building activities. It goes back to my philosophy on happiness in the workplace – employees are automatically going to make good, ethical decisions for their themselves, their co-workers and our clients if they are leading balanced lives.

Do you have specific policies, training, etc.?

Yes, we have a policies and procedures handbook which outlines our code of conduct. We give a bound copy of this to all of our new hires to reference at any point during their employment. As part of our interview process, we use PDPworks Professional DynaMetric Programs, which provides an assessment of the candidate with respect to his or her fit for the position. We also use PDPworks for current staff to gauge motivations, happiness levels, stress management and overall personality traits to help each employee understand their own workstyles and those of their colleagues. This helps employees interact with each other on a more knowledgeable level which, in turn, allows for ethical and respectful engagement.

Do you have any practical advice on actions leaders can take to integrate ethical conduct into their organizations?

Your word is priceless. Always strive to keep your word, and be as honest as possible. Sometimes it’s not pleasant, but I’ve found that clients and vendors respect you more for your honesty. I’ve always found that whatever business we’ve missed out on by being honest has come back and then some because trust was instilled up front in the relationship.